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5 Picturesque Destinations for Fall Camping

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Fall camping is the perfect way to enjoy the night sky, colorful foliage and crackling campfires. Pitch a tent or park your camper at these scenic destinations.

Illuminated camping tent under starry skyMint Images/Getty Images

Reasons to Love Fall Camping

Cooler temps, no mosquitos and vibrant colors—yes, fall camping is a magical experience. Grab your tent and sleeping bag—or your RV—and get ready for scenic views, starry nights and good times around the campfire at five stunning fall camping destinations. Also check out the most scenic campsite in every state.

Little Manitou Falls, WIsconsinAaron C. Jors
Little Manitou Falls, Pattison State Park

Pattison State Park, Wisconsin

Pattison State Park is one of our favorite places for fall camping. Just south of the city of Superior, the park is home to the highest waterfalls in Wisconsin, a small lake with a beach and 9 miles of hiking trails. Pattison is a popular camping spot for travelers and locals alike. But never fear, every time we’ve stayed there we’ve found the tree-enclosed campsites quiet and private. In early fall, nights are good for sleeping under an extra blanket and the sun-warmed days are perfect for hiking through the textured forest of red, gold and orange.

Peak Fall Colors:  Mid-October

Pitch or Park:  The park has 59 sites; 18 have electric hookups.

Plan Your Trip:  dnr.wi.gov 
and superior
chamber.org

Colorful trees and hills looking out on Big Slide Trail, Keene Valley, New York, USA.Thomas Halle/Getty Images
Looking out on Big Slide Trail, Keene Valley, New York

Keene Valley, New York

Early October is the best time to see the fall colors at their peak in the Adirondacks’ Keene Valley. Many campgrounds and day use areas are open through mid-October, The area’s fall calendar is full of family activities to celebrate the season: apple picking, corn mazes and all-out festivals. If you’re looking for a fun, easy hike for young kids with a big payoff, Roaring Brook Falls is a good bet. It takes you on a short, flat path through the vibrant yellow and orange woods to the waterfalls, which cascade down from Giant Mountain. Your young hiker may even spot some brave rock climbers making their way up the giant.

Next, check out 4 national forests with breathtaking fall foliage.

Peak Fall Colors:  First week of October

Pitch or Park:  Lincoln Pond Campground and Day Use Area site is an ideal base camp for day trips to Roaring Brook Falls.

Plan Your Trip:  adirondack.net

A view of South Bar Lake and Lake Michigan, as seen from Empire Bluff Trail. Sleeping Bear Plateau, part of Sleeping Bear Dunes is a dominant part of the scene. South Manitou Island can be seen in the distance.csterken/Getty Images
A view of South Bar Lake and Lake Michigan, as seen from Empire Bluff Trail

Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan

The colors peak in mid-October around these northern Michigan dunes making this location perfect for fall camping. Tour nearby orchards, stroll the shoreline and hike the epic Empire Bluff Trail, renowned for its views of vivid autumn trees against a canvas of Lake Michigan’s blues and greens. You may start the hike to reach only the overlook, but you’ll be pleased to find that the trail itself, tunneling through lush yellows and oranges, makes for a stunning afternoon. If you’re looking for a relaxing drive, winding along the 7-mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive gives you many gorgeous overlooks of the great lake and surrounding inland lakes. (The sunrise over Glen Lakes is said to be particularly good!)

Peak Fall Colors:  Mid-October

Pitch or Park:  D.H. Day Campground has 
easy access to the dunes and Pierce Stocking 
Scenic Drive.

Plan Your Trip:  nps.gov/slbe

A view of Devil's Tower, Wyoming.Hemis/Alamy Stock Photo
A view of Devil’s Tower, Wyoming

Devil’s Tower National Monument, Wyoming

Well-known among rock climbers and sci-fi movie buffs, Devils Tower National Monument is a lesser-known destination for fall camping. That means you’ll have lots of space and privacy to enjoy the park’s three popular trails. Don’t be surprised to find a little snow on the ground in October along the Joyner Ridge Trail as it takes you through prairie and ponderosa pine. The iconic tower, which is said to look even taller and grayer in autumn, sits at the westernmost edge of bur oak trees and ash, highlighting the pine with orange, yellow and gold. Wildflowers, such as arrowleaf balsamroot, can be spotted throughout autumn. Cottonwood trees along the Belle Fourche River bring white-tailed deer, orioles, red-headed woodpeckers and blue jays—and don’t forget those prairie dogs!

Peak Fall Colors:  October

Pitch or Park:  Belle Fourche River Campground offers 46 sites, 43 of which are pull-through sites with room for RVs. Check out the best RV parks in every state.

Plan Your Trip:  nps.gov/deto

Samuel P. Taylor State Park, CaliforniaBrent Durand/Getty Images
Tall redwood trees nearly hide a campsite from view in Samuel P. Taylor State Park, California.

Samuel P. Taylor State Park

Camp and hike among towering redwoods in this California state park that is known for its many trails, including the hike up Barnabe Peak with its outstanding vista of Marin County. The South Creek Trail, which is wheelchair accessible, travels a mile and a half through forest and ferns. Bring your bike to explore the Cross Marin Trail following the old North Pacific Coast Railroad along Lagunitas Creek. Redwoods soar over most of the park’s campsites, though Devil’s Gulch and Madrone offer camping coverage under oaks. If tents or campers aren’t your style, you can also try out one of the newly built cabins.

Peak Fall Colors:  November

Pitch or Park:  Campsites are scattered along the trails. The main campground has 50 sites, and 
a few are accessible to small trailers. Psst—here’s 15 amazing camping gadgets that are worth every penny.

Plan Your Trip:  parks.ca.gov

Originally Published in Country

Felicia Schneiderhan
Felicia Schneiderhan writes from her home in Northern Minnesota, where she and her family revel in all the outdoor adventures the upper midwest has to offer – boating, hiking, camping, skiing, and ice climbing! She is the author of Newlyweds Afloat, detailing the years she and her husband Mark lived aboard their trawler in Chicago (yes, even in winter). You can read more of her award-winning magazine articles, personal essays, and fiction, plus her adventure blog at www.feliciaschneiderhan.com